I would like to share with you a word that some of you may not be familiar with, but it is one that has become very important in our world.  I want to share this word with you because it has a distant cousin which is used often. These two words, or at least their meanings, have become confused with each other in a way that is very dangerous to our culture.  The distant cousin is “freedom” and the word that is dangerous is “autonomy.”

The Cry For Freedom

The foundation of our culture and our country is freedom.  We still seem to like the word and hear many cries for freedom in our own day.  The cries come from those who want their lifestyles affirmed or those who want to legalize drugs or those who want to abort their unborn babies.  The cries come from those who want to be free to promote violence and hatred in their music or call their pornography art. Whenever someone makes even a suggestion that there is such a thing as truth we hear screams of “oppression” and cries for “freedom.”   But when we look a little closer much of what we hear in our culture today is not a cry for freedom, but a cry for autonomy. Allow me to explain.

The Cry For Autonomy

Freedom (or liberty) as the word has been used in our culture and country means that above the individual there is a law which members of the society agree to obey for their mutual protection.  But there is also the acknowledgment of an even higher Law to which the government is answerable. It is this understanding that not even the government is above the law which gives freedom and prevents tyranny.  But what we have now, and have had since the sixties, (and actually since Adam and Eve as we will see in a moment) is not a battle cry for freedom, but a cry for autonomy.

The word ”autonomy” (bear with me one minute here) comes from two Greek words which mean “self-law.”   Autonomy is not freedom but is the desire to be a law unto yourself. It is the attitude of “No one can tell me how to live.” It is the denial of a higher Law-giver and the claim ultimately to be one’s own God. It is the opposite of freedom because it results in ideas like, “Nobody can come on our campus if I disagree with them.  My ideas are sacred and untouchable and I will ban or shout down anyone who disagrees with me.”

In The Garden

All of this started in the Garden of Eden when the serpent spoke to Eve and told her not to listen to God, the true Law-giver.  Rather she should listen to herself and do what she thought best. She should “follow her heart” and she “Would be as God.” This autonomy is the basis of all sin and evil and yet our culture has made it a standard of living.  The New Testament understood the power of this lawlessness and so defines sin. “Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.” (I John 3:4)

The Result Of Autonomy

Autonomy results in a culture that remembers what is right and wrong but does not have the courage to apply it to any individual.  I challenge you to look and see how many of the calls to freedom in our day are actually calls to autonomy. The result is that real freedom suffers.  If you are a Christian then you are under the Lordship of Christ. If you believe the Scripture you know the world is under a Law-giver. We are not autonomous and to act as if we are is sin at its core.  Here is a point at which Christians must stand against our culture. We must remind our fellow creatures that we are not the Creator.

Freedom and Maranatha